warning signs of abuse red flags
Photo by Tammy Gann

Disclaimer: The content on our website is for informational purposes only and is not legal or medical advice. View the full disclaimer here.

The beginning stage of a new relationship is blissful, fun and full of hope. However, this stage is also when we have our blinders on. As a result, we can miss red flags and/or make excuses for the concerns that we see. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

Relationship Red Flags

Common red flags in a relationship include:

  • Name-calling, even if it’s presented in a joking manner
  • Telling you that no one else could love you but them
  • Isolating you from family and friends
  • Belittling, shaming and demeaning you in front of other people
  • Intimidating you via threats and body posturing
  • Gaslighting (psychological manipulation that makes you question your feelings, instincts and sanity. Often making you feel ‘crazy’)
  • Destroying your belongings, including harming your pets
  • Throwing things at you, kicking, punching
  • Strangulation
  • Controlling all finances without your input, stealing money, not giving you money when you need it
  • Using the Bible against you to control you or put you down

This is not an exhaustive list, but they are common examples of red flags in a relationship that sometimes get dismissed or overlooked. Watch out for them!

If you are experiencing any of these in your relationship, remember that these behaviours should not exist in a loving and godly relationship.

What Are the Different Types of Abuse?

When most people think of intimate partner violence they primarily think of physical abuse where a person is punching, kicking, restraining and/or strangling their partner. However, there are numerous forms of abuse, and often an abusive relationship consists of several forms of abuse at one time.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse involves being physically harmed by your partner. This can include threats (more on threats below) of physical harm, your partner withholding physical needs from you (denying you money, food, sleep etc.), threats to harm you or harm you with a weapon, restraining you, holding you hostage, causing harm to inanimate objects (such as a wall, door etc.), or harm to your children, pets or property. 

Strangulation is a serious form of physical abuse, and it’s a lethal form of assault. Strangulation is when external pressure or force is applied to your neck obstructing your airflow. This is not to be confused with choking, which is when there is a blockage inside a person’s throat.

Strangulation is a serious act of physical assault because the abuser knows they could kill you within minutes. This act is not done by accident but with the intent to administer serious harm to you.

physical abuse
Photo by Dan Burton

If you are experiencing strangulation in your relationship, please take it seriously. The harm and side effects from being strangled can take days, weeks or even a few months to show up. Even if you don’t seem to be experiencing side effects such as obstructed breathing, a hard time swallowing, dizziness or memory loss, please be seen by a doctor.

As we are not medical professionals, nor offering medical advice, please talk to your doctor if you have been strangled or want to learn more. You can also visit The Brain Injury Association of America website to learn more.

Emotional Abuse

emotional abuse
Photo by Sivani Bandaru

Emotional abuse is a silent killer. This is because from the outside you can’t see bruises or broken bones.

Emotional abuse includes belittling and degrading you both in private and/or public, intimidation, manipulation, gaslighting, threatening to leave or abandon you, using gestures or actions to attack your self-esteem and self-worth, and coercion.

Gaslighting is a covert form of emotional abuse where the abuser manipulates you to the point where you feel crazy, and question your sanity and/or reality.

The wounds from emotional abuse affect a victim deeply. Some women state that they prefer physical wounds over emotional ones because physical damage often heals quicker than emotional ones.

Verbal Abuse

It is common for verbal abuse to be the first form of abuse exhibited in an abusive relationship. Verbal abuse involves words that are used to tear you down, criticize and/or threaten you.

Examples of verbal abuse may include your partner threatening to kill or harm you, your family, pet or property, yelling and screaming at you, and name-calling (“stupid”, “bitch”, “useless” etc.)

As previously mentioned, the first sign of abuse in a relationship is often verbal abuse. DO NOT DISREGARD the possibility that your partner’s abusive behaviour could escalate to physical, emotional or mental abuse.

verbal abuse
Photo by Callum Skelton

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when your partner uses sex to exploit you and/or force sex on you. This includes your partner using coercion, manipulation or guilt to have sex with you without considering your desire to have sex. As well as forcing you to have sex with others, or engage in sexual experiences that you don’t want to or involuntary involvement in prostitution.

Sexual abuse also includes your partner withholding sex from you as a means of control. We often think that women are the only ones who withhold sex to control their husbands, but men are also guilty of this.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is a way your partner controls you via economic means.

This may involve your partner withholding money for your needs, stopping you from obtaining a bank account or job, sabotaging your job possibly resulting in a job loss, stealing your money and/or assets, harassing you at work or using the family money meant for needs for their own purposes such as gambling, alcohol or drugs.

financial abuse
Photo by Mathieu Stern

Spiritual Abuse

spiritual abuse
Photo by Myriam Zilles

Spiritual abuse is a form of emotional and psychological abuse. Your partner may use scripture, religious traditions or practices to control and coerce you.

To read more about spiritual abuse, check out our blog post here.


Stalking happens when someone is watching, following or harassing you repeatedly. Stalking can make you feel unsafe, vulnerable, insecure and at risk for greater harm. If you are a victim of stalking you may want to consider applying for a protection order.

Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is when an intentional or neglectful act causes harm or distress to an older person. Seniors can experience abuse from their caregivers, children or anyone they trust.

Signs of elder abuse include unexplained physical injuries, changes in mood or behaviour, financial problems, unhygienic conditions, and/or social withdrawal.

If you suspect elder abuse it is important to report it to law enforcement for further investigation. To learn more about elder abuse and how to report it click here.

elder abuse
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